Spirits are cherished by people the world over and each people has its own beloved spirit, shaped not only by the tradition of the people, but also by the very land from which it comes. Deep from the Black Forest comes schnapps made from cherries, whose very smell makes one think of mountains covered with black pine. Traditional potato vodka gives soothing warmth but with it a crisp bite that reminds one of winter. Pastis is rich and almost candy-like with its strong anise aroma, the perfect drink before a light summer dinner. It is a French confection, but in liquid form. And the William’s pear pálinka of the Hungarians is so rich in its fruit flavor, but with no hint of sweetness as to make one appreciate the pear itself.
However no matter where you travel, it seems as though all people have a certain respect for whisky.
Since I was a kid, there were a lot of aromas that captivated me, which I really enjoyed breathing in, but could not consume. It was not necessarily that I was not allowed, but mostly because of a young and sensitive palate. I remember the comforting smell of fresh coffee in grandma’s kitchen, which was especially wonderful in the winter. Grandma also made springerle cookies, strong with anis oil. It was a smell I cherished, but I could not stomach the cookies or the coffee. I also remember the rich scent of red wine during communion as a boy, whose complexities I appreciated even in the cheap, mysterious red liquid they used in church. I also remember the sweet and caramely scent of bourbon at family parties when the adults were mixing drinks.
Over time, as I got older (and as we all do), I began to challenge myself and my palate to appreciate these more complex flavors. Being an exchange student in Germany helped, where one can not have a proper meal without enjoying wine or beer along with and ending with coffee. Living in Hungary also helped, where one can not end (and also begin) a meal without schnapps.
At some point, I started ordering whisky instead of a beer or wine on a night out. Like learning to drink coffee all over again, it was a conscious decision to learn to appreciate it and I can’t say that the first few were easy to appreciate. However, like coffee or wine, now that I have acquired a taste, it is hard to understand how one can’t appreciate it.
And just like my other gastronomic preferences, my preference for certain whiskies is just as fickle. Sometimes I want nothing but deep, peaty smokiness to warm myself. At other times sweet, fresh, and malty is what I crave.
Because there is just so much good whisky out there, I have decided to document, the whiskies that I purchase here. I once bought a copy of Michael Jackson’t award-winning Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, which was an excellent book. Then I realized that to purchase such a book as a guide is pointless. It was wonderful to have a catalogue of wonderful whiskies to try, but the fact is that I like just about anything and any rating is purely subjective. Because of this I see no reason to try to replicate such a guide here. This is simply a place to jot down what I think about the whiskies I buy so I can refer back later and compare. Perhaps subconsciously I just want to see how long this list can get.
Really, would that be so bad?